DoD’s top financial official joined top officers from each service Jan. 12 to reiterate to Congress what MOAA has been stressing for several years – reliance on continuing resolutions (CRs) to fund the nation’s defense remains a wasteful strategy that unfairly disrupts the lives of servicemembers and their families.
When it comes to the true cost of a yearlong CR, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Mike McCord put the figure close to $24 billion – triple the expected $8 billion shortfall between the DoD budget request and what the CR would provide. He offered multiple reasons why:
- Misaligned funds, such as $3 billion earmarked for Afghanistan operations that would be unavailable for other uses.
- More than 100 “new start” military construction projects, costing a combined $5 billion, that can’t be undertaken under a CR.
- Procurement and research projects stalled by costs not covered by the CR, or new programs unable to be launched under a CR.
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Of special interest to MOAA was this statement in McCord’s prepared testimony to the House Armed Services Committee: “Our military personnel accounts would be funded $5.0 billion below our requested level” in a yearlong CR, he wrote, “yet inside those flat funding levels we would have to absorb the cost of a well-deserved pay raise and statutory housing and subsistence increases for the troops.”
This means cutting corners to make the math work, McCord said, with delayed accessions and suspended PCS moves, among other budgetary maneuvers damaging to both morale and readiness.
The current CR will expire Feb. 18, and if appropriators cannot come to an agreement at the negotiating table, a year-long CR could be their misguided solution.
Service Chiefs Weigh In
A consistent theme from DoD officials is that a prolonged CR will hurt retention and break trust with military families. A reduction in retention bonuses, a halt to PCS moves that impact spousal employment and housing, and predictability for training schedules would all be impacted.
What was clear from the testimony from McCord and the five service chiefs is the endless stop-and-start to the budgetary cycle is a waste of taxpayers' dollars, and that predictability is badly needed.
Uniformed leaders of each service provided perspective on the need for a full budget in written and oral testimony, stressing many of the points brought forward by McChord as well as issues identified by MOAA in past advocacy efforts:
- A yearlong CR “would jeopardize the Army’s ability to meet emerging national and defense policy imperatives,” Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph Martin wrote, adding the lack of a budget would “cause severe impacts to the Army’s ability to take care of our Soldiers and their families. …” Martin testified as Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville attended the interment of Gen. Raymond Odierno, former Army Chief of Staff, at Arlington National Cemetery.
- Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger told the committee retention would suffer without a budget. A CR would lead not only to a loss of trust among Marines and their families, but a loss of confidence among allies and partners, who may see multinational training exercises canceled.
- Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said the Navy would reduce accessions by 75%, delay 50% of PCS moves, disrupt spousal employment, and withhold retention bonuses as a result of the CR. The move also would put a hold on shipbuilding and infrastructure improvements, leading to lost investments.
- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr. discussed the devastating impact on airmen and modernization, widening the gap between the U.S. and pacing threats on hypersonic technology. A yearlong CR would mean a $1 billion loss in personnel funds, Brown said, crippling already weak recruiting prospects.
- Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond testified how Space Force Guardians would be damaged by a CR as the service stands up. He noted space is contested and pointed to recent Chinese hypersonic tests and Russian anti-satellite missile tests. A yearlong CR would result in a $2 billion reduction for the Space Force, Raymond said.
MOAA previously has outlined the simple schedule Congress can follow to avoid a CR and its damaging consequences. Talk of a yearlong CR in 2022 makes the need to end this wasteful practice even more urgent. Please reach out to your elected officials via MOAA’s toll-free congressional hotline, 1-866-272-6622, to share this important message:
Our country is still healing from many ailments, not the least of which is polarization on Capitol Hill. Regardless of party or politics, we need a Congress that can execute the duties of the day. This sounds simple, but I know it is far from that – in fact, when it comes to a timely budget, it is apparently quite difficult.
I am asking you to reach across the aisle for the nation, and to ensure the responsibility of funding the government is not lost or delayed in the process of negotiating other priorities. Of particular interest to me and my family is the defense of our nation and the responsibilities we all have for members of our uniformed services and their families who selflessly serve our nation and do so without complaint or compromise. We all could continue to learn from their dedication.
Thank you for your service and for taking a leadership role in solving our nation’s funding challenges.
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